‘Spd D8n’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by August 4, 2017

‘Spd D8n’ is a side-splitting show about speed dating by WA playwright, Martin Lindsay. With Martin having, in the past, won several awards for his acting, the ‘best humorous writing’, and with yarns published in an Australian Best Short Stories compilation, my expectations for this show were high – I was not to be disappointed.

This production is being proudly presented by Blak Yak Theatre, in the newly refurbished theatre within Shenton Park Community Hall, 240 Onslow Road, Shenton Park. Blak Yak was formed in 1993 to assist small theatrical groups with putting on shows, and to generally help the underdog – whether a writer, actor, technician or director – get started. In the past quarter of a century, they have covered all genres. Their success is due to their guiding committee being comprised of keen and dedicated theatricals, with a number of very different skills.

The curtains go up on this fresh, madcap, 100-minute show at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until the 12th August. There is a late ‘matinée’ at 7.00 pm on Sunday 6th August.

 

Mike Blackwell’s set is a room in a pub. The walls are black drapes. Across the stage, in a line, are three tables each with a chair. The stage was managed by Lorna Mackie, who used the play’s pub bouncer, Anthony ‘Giles’ O’Brien, as her stage crew.

There were dozens of lighting changes, as the action hopped from table to table being picked out by individual spotlights. The lighting and sound design and its operation, was by Michael McAllan, Don Allen and Matthew Ward.

     Having just broken up from a long term relationship, Tom (Stuart Porter) has been forced into a dating evening by his friends. Bored and very negative about the whole thing and with 15 girls to interview – and be interrogated by – Tom would rather be at home. The first girl he meets is PR girl, Jacqui (Susan Veart), a pedantic prude with a list of meaningful questions.

     At another table are veteran daters, Mike (Leigh Fitzpatrick) and Chloé (Imogen Ashton). Mike is gabbling away, telling Chloé what a wonderful person he is; whilst Chloé cannot help discussing the more ‘delicate’ features of her personality and inappropriately, some of her bodily functions.

   Hovering in the background is Joanne (Melissa Merchant), an attractive young lass, who because of her age has been dumped by the organisers into the wrinklies group and is desperately trying to escape to the younger men section.

 

Martin has created five extremely different, but very real characters for this play. Such are his superlative writing skills, that if given a paragraph of his script, you would instantly know the character speaking by the clear personality within the words. This quality is very rare.

Thérèse Cruise, who was nominated in the prestigious Finley Awards as an ‘up and coming star to watch’, has directed this play with pizazz. It is always good to see a talent, who has proved themselves in other theatre techniques, getting a chance to direct. Thérèse has acted and sung, as well as excelling at choreography, makeup, and hair design. In this, her début directing experience, the actors are mainly static, and so a great deal of thought had to be put into hand movement and expressions in order to retain audience interest. Thérèse has guided this wonderful cast superbly, bringing every ounce of fun from the lines. Everyone in the audience sniggered and chortled throughout, with a good belly laugh at least every few minutes.

Conveniently situated just behind Charlie Gairdner’s Hospital, it is in a fairly accessible spot.

If you enjoy good comedy writing, backed with fine character acting, have a fun night out and see this play.